Thursday, October 17, 2019

#290 / After The Earthquake (30 Years Later)

At 5:04 p.m., on Tuesday October 17, 1989, exactly thirty years ago, Santa Cruz County was struck by an earthquake, and torn apart. Among other things, the earthquake stopped the Town Clock, in the City of Santa Cruz.

On Sunday November 19, at 5:04 p.m., we started the Town Clock again, in a moving ceremony of renewal. I was, at that time, the Chairperson of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and I was privileged to be able to speak at that ceremony. Here is what I said:

It is hard, my friends, to say all the things that have happened to us. The events we have experienced confound us greatly. They raise questions in our minds. What is it, this city that we love so much?

Is a city the brick and the mortar‑‑the wood, and glass; the concrete and the steel? Is a city the materials we make it of? Is a city the odd corners and the passages‑‑the secrets; the alleys and the backdoors; the plazas; the curbsides; all the strange spaces that make it up? Is it the fragrances we breathe in the city streets‑‑the coffee and the smoke; and flowers, sometimes; fir trees at Christmas; soap; cookies baking; the autos going by? Is our city the noises we hear‑‑the disturbances down the block (we turn and look); the Salvation Army Band; the bells from the fire tower; the town clock's gong? Is the city the spoken conversations we hear, as we pass in fleeting moments‑‑is the city all that?   

Or light? The light dying down, at five o'clock, reflecting from the windows; hard at noontimes, sometimes, picking out the colors in the textures of the walls? Or the textures?  Is the city all the different textures that we know‑‑sandstone, grainy to the touch on the Cooper House wall (run your fingers over it); old wooden storefronts, with cracking paint; tiles and stucco; all that we touch, that touches us?  

If that is what the city is, we've lost those things. We've lost those things that belong to us‑‑that were our city: the particular light, in particular and specific spaces, that composed themselves "just so," for us; the smells, and the noises, and the textures of the street that was our street.   

It was ours‑‑and theirs! The other ones‑‑the ones who made it; the ones who came before us: each space; each stone; each store‑‑a legacy.

We've lost those pieces of history that composed our present. Some of us have lost our lives, as our city came apart. It confounds us greatly. It raises questions. It raises questions what history we shall make.   

For a city is bricks, and mortar, and space, and light‑‑the touch and the textures, and the noises in the street, and all that pertains to the lives we lead.   

And while we live, we are the city. The realities we leave behind us, when we go, are the ones we make. With good will, and great visions, the city we build will be an opportunity realized; the spirit, speaking; our dreams come true.  

Our dreams, and our spirit, we have not lost.

That was my speech. It's just words, of course, but I think that those words speak the truth. While we live, we are the city. The realities we create, and the history we make, will come from the dreams we choose to dream.

Image Credit: - October 16 - 22

1 comment:

  1. It's OK to say "Chairman." Chairman is a perfectly good English word, a perfectly descriptive word. There's no need to mince about the reality for political correctness.

    I dislike the dilution of language for contemporary political coherence. Let's keep our language alive, accurate and useful.


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